UTPD warns bicyclists to follow rules of the road

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Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Bicyclists breaking transportation laws are too common on campus, said Le’Patrick Moore, UT Police Department Corporal.

Since transportation code treats bicycles as motor vehicles, bicyclists on campus need to follow all the same laws drivers do, said Moore, a member of the UTPD bike unit. These laws include stopping at stop signs and red lights, and using turn signals.

“Students do not have the right to blow through intersections like they own the road,” Moore said. “This only poses a danger to themselves and everyone around them.”

Additional laws bicyclists must follow include getting in a bike lane when available and determining how close to the right curb they can ride while maintaining their personal safety if there is none.

“I know it is hard on a bike to stop at every intersection because the constant stopping is bad for the knees,” Moore said. “As long as the cyclists clears the intersection and makes sure it is (his or her) turn to go, then I’m fine with bicyclists not coming to a full stop.”

Exercise science junior Sahil Gopal, who bikes around campus, said he knows bicyclists have to follow car traffic laws but thinks most students feel they do not need to.

“Students are overconfident in their skills, especially when it comes to biking,” Gopal said. “They think they have the ability to maneuver around people and cars with ease, but the fact is that no one is invincible.”

The most common rule cyclists break is not using turn signals, Moore said.

“Using your left arm, you are supposed to make a backwards ‘L’ or ‘U’ to signal a right turn and stick your arm straight out for left turns,” Moore said. “We really encourage people to use them to let drivers know what sort of movement cyclists are making at dangerous intersections.”

Moore said students should keep these laws in mind as they travel on and off campus.

“There is not a lot of vehicle traffic going through campus, but on busier intersections off-campus, cars can go up to 30 mph, which would injure a cyclist badly,” Moore said.

Electric engineering freshman Mrugank Parab said the main thing bicyclists should look out for is pedestrians, as they can be at greater risk for injury.

“I’ll be walking through some construction section marked off for pedestrians and bicyclists will fly through them without watching,” Parab said. “They don’t acknowledge that we’re there, and that’s a lot more dangerous for us than them.”

The UTPD bike unit, which consists of officers patrolling on bikes, aims to be proactive in their policing and make sure students know they exist. The bike unit prides itself on educating bicyclists first before handing out punishments, Moore said.

“When I was a kid, I rode my bike all the time, but I didn’t really know what laws I was supposed to be following,” Moore said. “Now, I like to educate students first, so at least they know how they’re supposed to behave on the road.”